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Thursday, December 17, 2015

to tighten one's belt

Idiom: to tighten one's belt (used as a verb)

First Example:
            Tim: Do you want to go to lunch?
            Sally: I brought lunch, but thanks for the invite.
            Tim: Wow! You never bring lunch!
            Sally: Well, Justin lost his job, so we're gonna have to tighten our belts until he finds something new.
            Tim: That's too bad. I hope he finds a new job soon.

Meaning: The expression "to tighten one's belt" means to spend less money. The idiom is most often used when the person is spending less because he or she now has less many, as in the example. Here, Sally explains that her husband Justin lost her job, so she can't go out for lunch.

Second Example:
            Father: Kids, we've decided to buy a new house.
            Son 1: Awesome! Will I get my own room?
            Son 2: I want my own room too!
            Mother: Yes, you'll both get your own rooms.
            Father: But, the mortgage on the new house is more expensive, so we're going to have to tighten our belts
            Mother: That means no pizza or going to the movies for a while.
            Son 1: That's OK! I can't wait to see my new room! 

Meaning: In the second example, the father uses the example to explain that the family will have less money because of a larger mortgage payment (so they are making the same amount of money but have more expenses now). Notice that the idiom is commonly used with the modal "have to" (seen in both examples).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

to break even

Idiom: to break even (used as a verb)

First Example:
            Manager: I'm sorry, but we won't be able to give that raise you asked for.
            Employee: That's too bad. Can you explain why?
            Manager: Well, the rent for the building went up, and we lost a couple clients. Unfortunately, we barely broke even the last two months.
            Employee: Wow, I didn't realize it was that bad.
            Manager: Well, hopefully this new client will work out and we'll be bringing in more income starting next month.

Meaning: The expression "to break even" means to spend the same amount of money as was earned. In the example, the manager explains that the employee won't be getting a raise because the company "barely broke even," meaning that the company spent what they had earned and had no profits.

Second Example:
            Chris: How was the casino?
            Tania: It was so much fun! You should have come!
            Chris: Did you win any money?
            Tania: Yeah! I made enough to pay for the plane tickets and hotel room, so I basically broke even.
            Chris: Wow, so a free vacation! 
            Tania: Yeah! It would have been nice to make money, but it was still a surprise to break even and still have so much fun.

Meaning: In the second example, Tania "broke even" on her trip, making enough money at the casino to pay for her travel and accommodations.